09/08/2015 21:30 BST | Updated 09/08/2016 06:12 BST

Bristol Celebrates 'Record-Launching' Success Of Balloon Festival

Hot air balloons have launched in all seven scheduled ascents at Europe's biggest ballooning fiesta for the first time in its 37-year history.

Perfect flying conditions meant that the 551 balloon flights at the Tribute Bristol International Balloon Fiesta took place at dawn and dusk from Thursday to Sunday evening.

Special shapes including Stuart The Minion, a Swatch balloon and two penguins named Splash and Puddles graced the skies over the city.

A pair of balloons from the Netherlands, Oons Wiefke and Oons Kearlke - the Dutch words for husband and wife - also took part.

On Friday, the world's first certified hybrid-solar powered hot air balloon took to the sky to mark Bristol's year as the UK's first European Green Capital.

The event, hosted at the 850-acre Ashton Court estate, was so popular that visitors were turned away on Saturday as the site had reached full capacity.

Jane Oakland, chair of the Tribute Bristol International Balloon Fiesta Organising Committee said: "We have had a record-breaking year and an incredible weekend - never, in the event's history have the balloons flown in all seven planned balloon launches and put on such an amazing show for our Fiesta visitors and the city.

"Over the weekend we have successfully launched 551 balloon flights."

The black and silver hybrid-solar powered hot air balloon, developed by Cameron Balloons, was funded by Bristol 2015.

It is made from lightweight polyurethane coated nylon, with the black side attracting heat from the sun to make air inside the balloon envelope much hotter than the ambient temperature.

The silver side of the balloon then prevent that heat from escaping. It is fitted with propane burners, in case the sun disappears mid-flight.

Andrew Garrad, chairman of Bristol 2015 said: "One of the reasons Bristol won the title of European Green Capital is the city's impressive track record in pioneering new forms of green technology.

"It feels extremely fitting that Bristol – the current Green Capital, and the home of ballooning – has developed the world's first hybrid solar-powered hot air balloon.

"I hope that this project will inspire many more firsts for Bristol."

Other balloons attracting attention at the fiesta include the Ricoh Cute, a frog and one of the largest special shapes ever built - the exclusive ballooning pirate ship.

The ship, measuring at 39m long, 31m high and with a volume of 500,000 cubic feet, made its debut at the fiesta on Friday.

Two Power Rangers balloons, featuring the red and pink Mighty Morphin Power Rangers helmets, also took part in the mass launches.

A night glow, in which balloons are illuminated in time to music, took place on two evenings followed by a firework display over the estate.